An interesting new look at the national game, and our reaction, thoughts and feelings about it, is currently taking place in the form of a new exhibition at the Wolverhampton Art Gallery. ‘This Is Our Love And It Knows No Division’ curated by artists and football fans Ewan Johnston and Dion Kitson, takes the work of 15 British Artists that shows their response to football at all levels, and how the sport can both unite us, and divide us, due to tribal rivalries that exist in pretty much every major town and city.
Wolverhampton is, of course, a town with a rich footballing history. It has a premier league team and a strong rivalry with its nearest team (and my team) West Bromwich Albion. That rivalry is shown beautifully in the piece by Martin Parr, a photograph of the match where West Brom ( who play in blue and white stripes and are called the Baggies) left Tesco carrier bags on their gold chairs after beating Wolves at home. Wolves fans had disparagingly referred to the Baggies as ‘Tesco Carrier Bags’ and so this was a beautiful, victorious response.
Wolves are further represented in the work of former player Jodie Craddock, and in a tribute to their homegrown local hero Steve Bull, whilst famous West Brom fan Joe Lycett shows his thoughts for the game in a way that only he could, in the brightly coloured Flamenco style jacket he wore during his programmes during the Qatar World Cup. Joe famously called out David Beckham for his support of this World Cup after previously showing similar support for LGBT+ charities and issues. The jacket installation is called ‘Benders Like Beckham’ and makes you wonder about a sport that, at home, will actively support the ‘Rainbow Laces’ campaign, and yet play in and support a World Cup in a country that has an appalling record when it comes to gay rights.
There is a lot to enjoy in this specially curated exhibition, from pieces by the man described as ‘Birmingham’s Billboard Prankster Foka Wolf ( bringing a whole new meaning to ‘on me head, son’), to the brilliant exuberance of ‘Three Lions’ by Ruth Batham. ‘Oh Come Oh Ye Reds’ by Liverpool’s The Singh Twins brilliantly captures both the joy of football and the city of Liverpool.
This Is Our Love And It Knows No Division